In this interview, we talk to Dean James Friesen, authors of the book, Electromagnetics for Engineers Volume 1: Electrostatics and Magnetostatics . We discuss the motivation behind writing the book, the target audience, the most useful aspects of the book, the challenges of writing the book, and advice for other engineers who are considering writing a book.
Dean James Friesen graduated from Kansas State University (Manhattan, KS), College of Engineering in 1987 with a B.S. degree in Engineering Technology (Electrical/Electronic emphasis) and in 1984 with an Associates of Technology (A.T.) degree in Electronic Technology from KS Technical Institute (now Kansas State Polytechnic, Salina, KS). Mr. Friesen worked a total of 33 years in the EM-related engineering related disciplines of EW, RF/MW/mm-wave, HEMP, EMC/EMI, E3, & EME before retiring from The Boeing Company on June 5, 2020 as the Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA), Product Development Org, EME & Antennas Group, Sr. Principal Investigator (Jun 2016 – Jun 2020).
1. What was your main motivation behind writing your book?
The main motivation for my writing the first volume was my desire to introduce a technical book on the subject of electromagnetics that was not either tedious or boring but was interesting, conversational-to-read, and easy-to-grasp. Far too many technical engineering books are written in a tone that sounds like a monotone professor giving a lecture in a 500-person auditorium. I had to read many such books in college, and I found them to be labor-intensive, uninteresting, and tiring, making me wish that I had not taken the course. This was such a shame, too, because truly in every decade there is a shortage of excellent electromagnetic engineers in industry.
2. Who is the main target audience for your book and what will they appreciate the most about the book?
My initial target audience for this first volume was the first-year engineering professional coming straight out of engineering school and into industry. I wanted such an individual to have a good technical volume in electromagnetics to have in case he fond the need for a quick brush up. However, it wasn’t long and I began to discover that there were experienced electromagnetic engineers that said to me that they would LOVE to have an easy-to-read technical guide on this subject in their technical library at work. So, they, too, began to me my target audience as well.
3.What do you see your book being most useful for?
I envision this book to be not only an easy-to-comprehend technical resource for engineering school students learning the subject of electromagnetics but also a book that will be saved for a future professional reference. I envision it being placed it on an office bookshelf for fast retrieval in the event that a technical problem is encountered in the workplace.
4. How did you find the writing of the book? Do you have a specific process or are you quite methodical in your writing approach?
It has been one of the most enjoyable endeavors of my life.
Yes, I have a process and am quite methodical in my approach as well. I begin with an outline and then proceed to making that outline into a table of contents. I then read through corresponding topics from other electromagnetic books begin writing explanatory notes for the topic(s) at hand. These notes are written in an almost “stream of conscience” 1st draft manner.
The second draft emerges by chopping up longer sentences in the first draft into shorter sentences. This, believe it or not, helps to make the book evolve into something considerably more readable.
The final draft then is produced by taking the new shorter sentences and transforming the text into a conversational explanatory style. I try to picture someone sitting across from me, and I am trying to teach them the subject matter. This process, believe it or not, works very well for me, and it eventually evolves into something I and proud to publish for the technical world.
5. What challenges did you face when writing the book and how did you overcome them?
There are some days when I just don’t feel like writing. On those days, I mix my book-writing efforts with other of my favorite projects to work on, like for example, projects being created in my home wood shop, Doing this lifts me out of those doldrums, and I resume writing with enthusiasm again.
6. What advice would you give to other engineers who are considering writing a book?
Before writing a book, be sure that you have convinced yourself that you know the topic backwards and forwards, inside and out, up one side and down the other. If you realize that you don’t know the subject you started on well enough to write about it, pursue a second subject. Do sufficient initial research until you ensure yourself that you thoroughly know the topic about which you want to write. Finally, hold on to those books for a while, and use them for reference sources to cite at the back of the book, i.e., the bibliography.
7. What are you working on next?
The next book project is called “Electromagnetics for [Practicing] Engineers, Volume II: Electromagnetics, Boundary Conditions, Maxwell’s Equations, and Practical Solutions to Real-World Engineering Problems.” An Artech House reviewer said that the last of the above topics was what was missing in all Electromagnetics books published to date. The reviewer said – if written well, that this could make the two-volume set volumes best-sellers.
I sure hope so.
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